During the ongoing COVID-19 crisis, adjustments have become more and more commonplace, and nowhere has this mentality been embraced as wholeheartedly as it has been by Drexel University.
Colleges and universities across the world have made a major transition by moving classrooms to an online setting, with the additional complication of evacuating on-campus housing. However, the phenomenon of co-op that Drexel has so integrated into their plan of study presents an entirely new host of obstacles. In addition to the even more accelerated pace at which classes are now proceeding — from the traditional ten-week run to a nine-week sprint — students who were slated to start their co-op in spring quarter have faced extenuating issues.
Drexel’s co-op students are faced with working remotely for the first time, being reassigned to a different co-op position or having their starting date postponed. Uswa Mutaal, a sophomore Political Science and Economics double major, spoke with the Triangle about Drexel’s response and communication with students currently in the spring/summer co-op cycle.
“Drexel’s been very supportive actually. Steinbright worked with employers to have them delay start dates or start students off remotely rather than canceling the co-op altogether,” Mutaal said.
Despite spring break being extended an additional week, start and end dates vary depending on the employer, and the university continues to maintain the dates of the six-month co-op window.
While other colleges have more easily canceled the potential plans of their students intending to study abroad, the preparation required for students with co-op positions abroad has been difficult to navigate in the wake of various travel restrictions. In addition to all study abroad programs, intensive courses abroad and research abroad, co-ops abroad have also been canceled writ large, except for circumstances wherein international students would be returning to their country of origin to work.
Drexel has encouraged such students in these exceptional situations to immediately contact their co-op advisors for help in seeking out other options. Mutaal describes the process available for students attempting to salvage their co-op: “People who had their co-ops canceled actually went on other interviews via Steinbright, I’ve been told.”
Students across the globe have been coordinating with university mandates to evacuate campus housing and gain access to the technology required to attend and participate in their classes, all while grappling with the seemingly universal loss of motivation. Drexel students find themselves once again in a particularly unique position when considering those on co-op.
With many employers becoming more flexible (in terms of allowing employees to work from home), there is undoubtedly some element of Drexel’s distinguished co-op experience that is being lost. Despite there being no easy solution to this issue, a wide array of concerns have been voiced, especially from students with only one co-op opportunity.
Students with such concerns are being directed to their co-op advisor and have been told to keep their advisor in the loop regarding any changes. Mutaal explains, “I’ve been in touch with my co-op advisor about any changes to my situation and other professional development opportunities I could pursue, and she’s been helpful.”
If students are experiencing any difficulty in managing their co-op or classes amid this crisis, they are instructed to contact their co-op advisor or academic advisor accordingly.